Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Sued for Discrimination Against African Reporter

Originally published August 14, 2023 7:13 am PDT

Simon Ateba, an African journalist representing Today News Africa, has initiated a legal battle against Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, and the Secret Service.

The root of the controversy is the removal of his press badge which he alleges is in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Ateba’s litigation, backed by the Center for American Liberty, a nonprofit organization established by Harmeet K. Dhillon, a known lawyer and Republican Party representative, claims the defendants deliberately adjusted the prerequisites for obtaining hard pass credentials.

The lawsuit states: “Defendants violated Mr. Ateba’s First Amendment rights by changing the criteria for hard pass credentials to intentionally prevent Mr. Ateba from obtaining hard pass access.”

The suit further alleges, “Defendants did so by adopting credentialing criteria specifically designed to exclude Mr. Ateba from eligibility. Such discrimination amounts to a content-based regulation and viewpoint discrimination against Mr. Ateba in violation of the First Amendment.”

This legal move comes in the wake of the Biden administration introducing new guidelines in May that permits the retraction of press badges, a novel move.

Ateba, whose hard pass expired at the end of July, asserts that he has since been denied its renewal.

Currently, 975 reporters possess White House hard passes, allowing them unfettered access to the White House press areas. Those without this pass must seek a day pass on a specified date to gain entry.

Ateba has previously expressed discontent with the White House’s press procedures.

Notably, during a briefing on March 20, which featured the cast of the popular show “Ted Lasso,” Ateba confronted Jean-Pierre, voicing his frustration for not being given an opportunity to pose a question in over seven months.

During this confrontation, he stated, “This is not China. This is not Russia. What you are doing, you’re making a mockery of the First Amendment.”

Ateba has consistently claimed discrimination by the White House towards him and several other reporters.